The Sierra Club and other environmental advocacy groups have reportedly filed a lawsuit against Georgia Power for allowing coal-fired power plants to operate with outdated permits. The groups are alleging that the agency failed to ensure that five different power plants were current on their permit. Some of the facilities, they say, failed to update for permits for more than a decade, and therefore were not in compliance with stricter federal water pollution rules.
The significance of the allegations is that failure to keep up-to-date with wastewater permits can result in the discharge of high levels of various toxins into water supplies, including mercury, arsenic, and various heavy metals. This obviously puts local animal and human populations at risk.
Georgia Power has denied the allegations, and contends that all the plants named in the complaint have valid wastewater permits and are following all state regulations. The permits at issue in the case have apparently been administratively extended beyond when they would ordinarily have to be renewed. The reasons for the extensions are not specifically known, but maybe tied to the costs associated with bringing the power plants into compliance with the newer, stricter rules.
For any business that is required to comply with complicated and costly environmental regulations, it is critical to have a clear understanding of the changes that need to be made and to develop the most cost-effective way of making those changes. Working with an experienced environmental law attorney is essential to ensure that a business has a clear understanding of its legal obligations and a well thought out plan to fulfill those obligations.